There have been many election bills going through our legislature this session and not a moment too soon in our opinion. Here are some of the problems: Motor Voter registrants; groups seemingly* knowingly registering illegals to vote; Elections Dept head, Adrian Fontes, instructing poll workers to allow anyone and everyone who shows up to vote;  dead people and those who moved out of state being on the Early Ballot list (PEVL). There is good reason to purge this system. We have had reports of residents getting early ballots from someone who lived in the house years before. One report claims to have received an early ballot from a prior resident who moved away more than 20 years before.

We have worked with lawmakers in the past to get a bill to force purging these people. Imagine the cost of printing and mailing early ballots to those not eligible to vote in Arizona. We have asked county recorders why they don't purge these people. We get a variety of responses.

  1. We don't have authority to purge because of the “Permanent” early ballot wording.

  2. We don't have the time to purge.

  3. We don't have a tracking system to know who to purge.

  4. Every county uses different software that can't talk to the Secretary of State's office.

Number one is a legitimate concern and what SB1188 is designed to cure. It's as simple as removing the word “permanent” from Statute. That singular word prevents county recorders from purging old voting records from the system.

Some counties are unable to use their software to track which ballots are voted. It's not that hard since every ballot is counted and recorded and those not counted were not voted.  Bingo.  Other counties claim not to have software that will track that. In the age of technology where anyone can track just about everything that anyone does, that seems to be a huge oversight. It's reported that “200,000” early ballots are not returned. That can't possibly be the right number when we have an average turnout of 50% which is high for some elections but Trump has boosted the turnout to over 50%. Given that 80% of voters are on the early ballot list and there are, as of January 2019, 3,782,218 registered voters in Arizona resulting in approximately 3,025,775 early ballots mailed out, it's easy to see this is a problem. About 75% are returned leaving over 756,000 unreturned ballots. The cost of early ballots is enormous. It costs approximately 12¢ to print an early ballot on 80# stock. It costs approximately 4¢ to print the post cards sent out to early voters to gauge which ballot is needed. Assuming a ballot weighs less than one ounce, it's 55¢ to mail first class but most ballots are in the two ounce category and would be 70¢ each. Then of course, the government pays the return postage for voted ballots, another 70¢ each.

Adding that up:

Item Mail Rate Number of ballots Total
Print Post cards $0.04 756443 $30,258.00
Mail out $0.26 756443 $196,675.00
Print ballots $0.12 756443 $90,772.00
Mailing out $1.00 756443 $756,443.00
Total cost for unvoted ballots $1,074,148.00
Times 2, primary and general $2,148,296.00

These are unnecessary expenses.  That is almost real money!  This is why it makes sense to purge voters who consistently don't return ballots needlessly sent. Some are no longer eligible to vote and others just don't bother. The savings could go to updating election software instead into the dust bin.

It's not voter supporession to insist voters who request early ballots should return them... by mail, the way they got them.  No postage is needed to return a ballot.  The post office even delivers any ballot that has insufficient postage.  This bill allows anyone who is removed to put themselves back on for a period of two election cycles if they still don't vote the mailed ballot.  Two election cycles means four opportunities to vote the ballot.  

Voting, by the way, is not a right, but a privilege.  It's a democratic way of choosing our officials.  Participate or not, it's the voters' choice and responsibility.

The next step is to purge illegals, dead people and those not living in Arizona from all lists.

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Replies to This Discussion

We need a use it or lose it law, so that if a registered voter fails to vote in 2 elections in a row than they'll be removed, we also need to update the lists as to who really lives where and if they're still living, and I'd really like to see the window shortened to say 2 weeks and also move the Primary to May or June which would allow some who leave for the summer to vote before leaving, not to mention escaping the heat to install the signs. 
God Bless You All; Clair Van Steenwyk

Amen!! Great ideas. 

It's about time!! I hope it happens.  Every election should have 100% honest votes.  

I moved a few years ago, about 10 or so.  I got an early ballot from someone who where two owners back.  I could have voted that ballot and who would have known?  Maybe they would throw it out because the signatures didn't match but if I was nefarious, I could go to the recorders office and looked up the person on their computers and seen what the sig looked like.  Easy pickings.

As to Clair's post, this bill will purge a lot of those you mention but they will never move the primary to May or June because it gives sitting legislators no time to campaign after the sessions end.   Just won't ever happen.  Move it to Sept and it's too close to the general.  Conundrum.

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